Whenever I go and do a beach cleanup, it’s never really a formal event. I use large fabric bags that I had sewed awhile back and I gather what I can. I use old running gloves to pick up the items because I don’t own a pair of rubber gloves anymore. I can easily also toss these gloves into the laundry when I’m done. With fabric gloves, I’m still very cautious about what I pick up and how I pick items up.
Most of the time, I’ll find anything and everything discarded on the beach. I usually walk along the shoreline and carefully look through the seaweed and debris that gets washed up from the ocean. A lot of ocean trash gets tangled up in the seaweed which then gets washed up on the beach.
I went to Roosevelt Beach this time for the beach clean up, and this beach looks fairly clean overall, but when you slow down and walk slowly, you can see little bits and pieces of trash everywhere like this:
On the surface the beach looks clean, but once I examined and shoreline and walked further and further, I kept finding more and more trash. At one point, it felt overwhelming because I knew I probably missed a bunch of pieces of trash due to the angle I was standing at or maybe my eyes simply couldn’t see the trash clearly. The reason why I like to do beach cleanups is because of the amount of trash that now occupies our ocean. There are different garbage patches that exist in five different ocean gyres in the world. With the ocean currents and the trash that’s discarded into the ocean, the combination creates different garbage patches which subsequently, kills the ocean wildlife. Since I live alone the Pacific Coast, the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch is the closest garbage patch to me.
Here are the basic facts about the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch;
- 7 million tons of weight
- Twice the size of Texas
- Up to 9 feet deep
- In the Great Pacific Ocean Gyre there is 6 times more plastic than plankton, which the main food for many ocean animals
- By estimation 80% of the plastic originates from land; floating in rivers to the ocean or blew by the wind into the ocean
- The remaining 20% of the plastic originates from oil platforms and ships
- According scientist it is the largest plastic dump on earth; so plastic patches are larger than waste dumps on land
- Trash patches consist for 80 percent out of plastic
- Scientific research from the Scrips Institution of Oceanography in California U.S. shows that 5 to 10% of the fish contain small pieces of plastic.
There are many reasons why I choose to live a zero waste life, or at least as close as I can to a completely zero waste life. Knowing that the trash we discard into the ocean is killing wildlife weighs on me. Although there are many concerns in the world that I do care about, this one hits close to home. We did this. Humans did this and are still doing this to wildlife.
There’s a program called Take 3 For the Sea, where they encourage that when you visit any location and pick up at least 3 pieces of trash, you too can help with reducing the amount of trash floating out in wildlife. This non-profit organization delivers education programs to inspire our global community to help create a cleaner planet for wildlife and future generations. You can pick up 3 pieces of trash wherever you go and that would make an impact on the environment.
I encourage you to do this. Please help clean up your local beaches. You can even download the app by Ocean Conservancy called Clean Swell. It’s a global movement to keep beaches, waterways and the ocean trash free. Head out to your favorite beach and use the app to easily record each item of trash you collect. Then share your effort with family and friends.
You can also find local beach clean up organizations near you. I have been a member of the Surfrider Foundation and they hold monthly beach clean ups.